The history of afternoon tea, Londons most iconic hotels, The Berkeley Hotel, The Connaught Hotel, Claridges Hotel, The Dorchester Hotel, The Ritz hotel, the Savoy Hotel,
London is awash with hotels, be they low grade, budget or high class, luxury establishments.
All hotels in London are slightly more expensive than in the rest of the U.K - it is the capital after all - and the nearer one gets to the centre of London, the more expensive the hotels become.
However, there are a certain few, that are not only expensive, five star, luxury hotels, but hotels that are considered iconic as well.
They are all establishments that are situated in London's prestigious West End.
Few of us could afford to stay in them, but that does not mean one can not visit them. All hotels are public buildings which contain restaurants, bars and cafes, and the general public is welcome in them all, particularly at tea time.
There is a tradition in The U.K, that at four o'clock in the afternoon, everything stops for tea.
Taking tea in the afternoon was once a tradition of the British upper classes and was introduced to Britain by Catherine Braganca, wife of King Charles II in 1661.
Tea was a very expensive commodity in those days, so in order to impress their friends and to show off how rich they were, the titled and landed gentry of British society would invite their friends to take tea with them, generally at four o'clock in the afternoon.
It wasn't until the mid 1800's however, that the beverage started to be served with dainty sandwiches and fancy cakes,and was known as high tea or a tea party, and was created by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, a friend of Queen Victoria's.
Since then in British culture the term ' tea time' is often used to mean the hour between four and five in the afternoon.
The modern tradition of the afternoon ' tea break' adopted by the working man and the masses came from this once, upper class tradition and the general masses like nothing more than to partake of this practice, particularly when on holiday, and what better place to indulge in this age, old tradition, than in one of London's most iconic hotels.
Traditionally afternoon tea is served with cucumber sandwiches and an array of fancy cakes and pastries, although today you can find yourself eating almost anything and drinking coffee or even champagne instead of tea.
Afternoon Tea is a speciality of these 6 particular five star, luxury, iconic, London hotels, and although it will cost you an arm and a leg, it is the British ' thing' to do when visiting the capital.
Below I will introduce you to these six, iconic hotels, that between them have been keeping the tradition of ' afternoon tea' alive for rich and poor alike, for well over a hundred years.
Image courtesy of Nigel Cox, wikimedia commons.
THE BERKELEY HOTEL.
The Berkeley is situated on Wilton Place in the prestigious area of Kightsbridge.
The hotel was first opened in 1900 by the impressario, Richard D'Oyly Carte and is the only hotel in London to have a roof top swimming pool.
Today the hotel is famous for it's high class spa and health club, the restaurant of celebrity chef Marcus Wareing,and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey's Boxwood Cafe.
Afternoon tea is served in the hotel's, Caramel Room.
ADDRESS - Wilton Place, Knightsbridge.
POST CODE - SW1X 7RL.
TELEPHONE - 020 7201 1699.
WEBSITE - www.the-berkeley.co.uk/
Image courtesy of Oosoom, wikimedia commons.
Claridges is situated in Brooke Street, a street situated off New Bond Street, the most expensive shopping street in Europe.
The hotel was originally opened in 1812 and was made up from a row of town houses.
The hotel right from it's early days became synonomous with royalty and London's upper classes.
In 1894 the hotel became part of the Savoy Group, run by impressario Richard D'Oyly Carte.
Today the 203 roomed, grade II listed, hotel is famous for it's restaurant, which is managed by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey and it's famous Water Menu, where it is claimed the hotel serves every type of bottled water ever produced anywhere in the world.
Afternoon tea is served in Claridge's Foyer.
ADDRESS - 49 Brooke Street.
POST CODE - W1K 4HR.
TELEPHONE - 020 7629 8860.
WEBSITE - www.claridges.co.uk
Image courtesy of Soham Bannerjee, wikimedia commons.
Named after the King's brother, the Duke of Connaught , this prestigious hotel situated in the West End's, Carlos Place, was opened in 1815.
The hotel was made up from two neighbouring Georgian town houses and was known throughout the land for it's high class service and grandeur.
Today the hotel is a 121 roomed hotel owned and managed by the Maybourne Hotel Group.
It is situated over six floors and has two a la carte restaurants as well as the Espellette, the venue for their afternoon teas..
ADDRESS - 16 Carlos Place.
POST CODE - W1K 2AL.
TELEPHONE - 020 3147 7200.
WEBSITE - www.the-connaught.co.uk
THE DORCHESTER HOTEL.
Situated on Park Lane overlooking London's Hyde Park, the Dorchester was opened in 1931.
With it's 49 suites and 250 rooms the hotel is owned and managed by the Dorchester Collection group of hotels, and is known the world over for it's high class service and elegance.
Today the hotel is famous for it's luxury spa, the Alain Ducasse Restaurant and the Promenade Tea Room, where it's iconic afternoon teas are served.
ADDRESS - 53 Park Lane, Mayfair.
POST CODE - W1K 1QA.
TELEPHONE - 020 7629 8888.
WEBSITE - www.thedorchester.com/hotel-london
This 133 roomed hotel situated in the West End's Picadilly, is possibly the most famous of all London's hotels.
Originally opened in 1906 by Cesar Ritz, a former manager at the Savoy Hotel, today the hotel is so popular that bookings for even afternoon tea have to be made months in advance.
The hotel sports six private restaurants, a casino and a bar modelled on the bar that featured on Agatha Christie's famous Orient Express.
The hotel's Palm Court is the iconic venue that has been used since it's opening for the serving of afternoon tea.
ADDRESS - 150, Picadilly.
POST CODE - W1J 9BR.
TELEPHONE - 020 7493 8181.
WEBSITE - www.theritzlondon.com
Image courtesy of ChrisO, wikimedia commons.
Impressario Richard D'Oyly Carte owned the Savoy Theatre on London's Strand. Due to the profits he made from Gilbert and Sullivan operas there, he decided to build a hotel next door, for all the visiting theatre goers.
When the hotel opened in 1889 it was the first hotel in London to be lit exclusively by way of electricity and the first in Britain to be classified as a luxury hotel.
The hotel at that time was managed by a certain Cesar Ritz, a Swiss national, who would go on to own and run the famous Ritz Hotel in Picadilly.
Today this high class establishment is owned and managed by the Fairmont Hotel Group and is famous for it's cocktail bar and for being situated on the United Kingdom's only right hand drive road.
This unusual street, Savoy Court, was made a right hand drive street to allow London's horse drawn carriages, the Hackney Cab, to pull up to the doors of the Savoy without the cab driver having to get out of his cab to disembark his passengers. Today London's iconic black cabs, also called Hackney Cabs, still make the journey up to the Savoy's doors on the right hand side of the road.
Afternoon tea is served in the Savoy's, Thames Foyer.
ADDRESS - The Strand.
POST CODE - WC2R OEU.
TELEPHONE - 020 7836 4343.
WEBSITE - www.fairmont.com/savoy
FOR OTHER GUIDES TO LONDON'S WEST END, PLEASE VISIT